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Open Thread: Putin’s unconscionable invasion of Ukraine

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Snowberry
Snowberry
3 months ago

…Well crap, spoke too soon. Now the Russians have captured residential areas in the northern side of Kyiv proper.

[Edit] And they took the Antonov Airport back as well.

Last edited 3 months ago by Snowberry
Crip Dyke
Crip Dyke
3 months ago

Thanks, Alan! Important stuff there that I didn’t know.

sunnysombrera
sunnysombrera
3 months ago

@GSS ex-noob

I’m afraid the Chinese are laughing all the way to the bank. Sanctions from the West means that Russia becomes their prime audience for trade. It’s why China isn’t joining in, and let’s be honest the CCP doesn’t give a fuck about the right thing to do.

Ladies and gents I think we have a new Axis Powers emerging.

Alan Robertshaw
3 months ago

For Contrapangloss…

comment image

Queen of the Harpies
Queen of the Harpies
3 months ago

All I can really say at this point is fuck Putin. Once upon a time, all I knew about him were the slightly silly Chuck Norris like memes. Not so funny anymore.

I don’t really know enough about the situation to offer an opinion on what could be done. The very last thing the US needs right now is to get involved in yet another war, but I really wish someone would step in and help the Ukraine fight back. I felt the same way during the last Russian invasion too.

@Alan

Oops, I am not Contrapangloss, but I have to say that’s pretty damn funny. Thanks for injecting some levity into this horrible situation.

moregeekthan
moregeekthan
3 months ago

Have western countries started seizing any of the properties and yachts and such that Putin and his cronies own in the west. I have not heard anything about that so far. As long as we don’t, I am assuming our governments are not serious about opposing him, and instead trying to do just enough not to look bad.

Snowberry
Snowberry
3 months ago

Steve Bannon: “Ukraine’s not even a country. It’s kind of a concept. It’s not even a country… It’s just a corrupt area that the Clintons turned into a colony where they can steal money out of.”

Cue lots of people creating parodies of this quote which dehumanize Steve Bannon. (No examples included because dehumanizing even awful people like him is bad.)

Moggie
Moggie
3 months ago

I see people still saying “the Ukraine”. This usage was common when it was a region of the USSR, but Ukraine regained independence in 1991, so please just call it “Ukraine”.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
3 months ago

I’ve been hearing from a few Russian artists I follow about their disagreements with current events. (There’s actually quite a little cottage industry online of Russians, particularly Russian women, making money via commissioned artwork.)

One in particular was noting that her boyfriend was Ukrainian, and is needless to say rather worried about his family.

Based on some of what I’ve heard (and take that with all the expectations of reality that come with a description that vague) a significant factor in the current invasion is probably from the natural gas oligarchs behind Putin as much as Putin himself. Ukraine isn’t just a potential good seaport for Russia, it’s also one of the primary pipelines to sell natural gas to the rest of Europe. Having a good chunk of the pipeline in the territory of a country that was (with good reason) not happy with Russia, and which also wasn’t getting much in the way of money out of the deal because the pipeline had been built when a Russian puppet was controlling things… well, Ukraine could mess with the flow of money, and that was something the Russian versions of robber barons wouldn’t want, and Putin might have been facing a revolt of the barons if he didn’t do anything.

Not that Putin didn’t want to do it anyway for all the other previously mentioned reasons, but that probably influenced the timing and setup of what happened.

On the positive side, robber barons want there to be a surviving market to sell to, so if they’re the primary driver of this then nukes aren’t on the table. And sanctions by not buying the gas they’re selling and potentially freezing offshore accounts will have an effect.

On the negative side, robber barons tend to really not care about things like who gets crushed in the way as long as there’s somebody left at the end who can buy their product, even if only by force.

And, as others have noted, a lot of the offshore accounts and assets of these people are in London, which could make what happens in England particularly critical for this. And England has a long history of turning a blind eye to the sources of the money, and with Brexit the rest of Europe can’t apply any significant pressure. It’s kind of discouraging to think that the fate of Ukraine could end up lying in the hands of Boris Johnson.

Also as others here have noted, it is rather depressing to see how much folks like Trump and a lot of so-called ‘conservatives’ have actively taken Putin’s side in this. Many of them the same people who scream about fascism and communism being horrible things (without really understanding what either actually is).

Britgeekgrrl
Britgeekgrrl
3 months ago

I’m pretty much miserable and terrified and reviewing my plans of what to do if for-real nuclear exchange happens. I thought we left this sh*t behind in 1989, dangit. *sigh*

True, the Russian robber-barons want a market to sell to and *they* won’t put nukes on the table, but having read “Doomsday Machine”, I’ve learned how easy it is for folks way down the org chart to start lobbing nukes if they think it’s the right thing to do. Ugh.

Contrapangloss
Contrapangloss
3 months ago

@Alan

…I think this is the first NFT proposal I’ve seen that I feel absolutely fine endorsing. Let’s do it!

In seriousness, though, this situation is bad.

Anyone who has the spoons, do help: but be really damn careful about vetting what you do to help.

Ask yourself if it seems reputable, and (if sharing on social media) is it info that if it’s wrong and someone uses it, could hurt them killed.

There are already neo-nazis and other nasty folk spoofing donation sites to Ukrainian relief, and people sharing lies about what borders are open/closed, and where troops are, and it’s a misinformation minefield.

Allandrel
Allandrel
3 months ago

Today in the “never read the comments” and “men who know nothing about women’s anatomy” categories:

Puff web article highlighting some actress’ bikini photo showing off her abs. Also includes a photo from a few months earlier where she is doing the same while hiking in a sports ‮arb‬.

90% of the comments are “hur hur she got a ‮boob‬ job” from ‮stoidi‬ who have no understanding of how ‮stsaerb‬ or sports bras work.

OF COURSE they look smaller in the earlier sports ‮arb‬ picture, you numpties. That’s what sports bras DO.

But heaven forfend you ever learn anything about women’s bodies before publicly judging them.

numerobis
numerobis
3 months ago

Elaine: your husband is not likely to get into any shooting over this. The US and Russia don’t directly shoot at each other. Russia just stuck its dick into a meatgrinder. The US will provide spices but Ukraine is going to be working the machinery.

If your husband *does* get shot at, then it’s because WW3 broke out and we’re all getting nuked. Nuttier people than Putin have shied away from that.

OTOH he might get deployed to Eastern Europe to pout at Russia.

Alan Robertshaw
3 months ago

Ok, so this seems to fit both this thread, and the blog generally. I thought this had to be a spoof; but I’ve checked some reliable sources and it’s true.

Russian soldiers have taken the invasion as an opportunity to hit on Ukrainian when via Tinder. At first women were just swiping left (or right; whichever the no thanks one is).

However…

Some women then realised that they could track the movements of the Russian soldiers as their Tinder profiles started getting closer. The soldiers were also encouraged to send pics; which of course had their location in the meta data.

The women pass this on to Ukrainian military intelligence; and with a bit of triangulation and confirming with the photos… Well, you can guess the rest.

All Russian troops have now been ordered to turn off their mobiles.

TacticalProgressive
TacticalProgressive
3 months ago

The rather peculiar thing with this whole invasion is apparently their are a lot of stories from a lot of captured Russian soldiers (both Conscripts and even Regulars) who actually legitimately don’t seem to know what it is they are actually doing or why they are in Ukraine in the first place.

A few Russian prisoners noted that at most; they were initially told they were “scheduled to do training maneuvers at the border”, but once they were deployed there they were just told to “advance”. Others weren’t even given that. They were apparently given no briefings or mission outlines.

That aside; apparently a large amount of Russian citizens are not endorsing the invasion of the Ukraine and protests have been occurring.

It does raise some questions and implications what with this information in regards to the actual Russian Troops and how that might to some degree affect things going forward.

.45
.45
3 months ago

@ Alan Robertshaw

Well, that is probably the funniest thing about this whole affair I’ve heard. I guess we need to find humor where we can.

In other news, I cannot believe Tucker Carlson. I knew he was trying to win the TV Host competition for Biggest Asshole, but he keeps surprising me with his determination.

For anyone who hasn’t heard, here is a little transcript:

“Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years? Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity? Does he eat dogs?”

I mean, seriously? Ignoring everything else, we have reason to believe disagreeing with Putin isn’t just something that has gotten people fired, but jailed, poisoned, and sent to sleep with the fishies. A TV show host who prides himself on fighting with the establishment really should think this through and contemplate what would happen if the US operated like that and Biden had had enough of his shit.

But that isn’t what he is thinking. He is doing that Right thing where they pretend to be against fascists, while fantasizing about becoming them. Carlson would love it if he lived in a country where basically everyone who disagreed with him and his little show were constantly in danger of being hauled off if they said just a little too much. He’d love to see our already questionable version of democracy destroyed, and his fans would love it. They want to be fascists in everything but name.

(Yes, yes, we can argue that Russia is a former Communist country flirting with fascism, but there is plenty of overlap, and Tucker and his ilk are more concerned with that middle part of the Venn Diagram than anything else. The part where people they don’t like get punished for existing or speaking out.)

Damn. I don’t think I’m going to get much sleep tonight.

SpecialFFrog
SpecialFFrog
2 months ago

I’m not sure if Bannon is directly on Putin’s payroll but he is certainly chummy with a lot of European far right groups who are.

Allandrel
Allandrel
2 months ago

@.45

Ignoring everything else, we have reason to believe disagreeing with Putin isn’t just something that has gotten people fired, but jailed, poisoned, and sent to sleep with the fishies.

Ah, but Putin has not done any of those things to Tucker Carlson, so they don’t matter.

Last edited 2 months ago by Allandrel
Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
2 months ago

Here’s a dirty little secret: there has yet to actually be a communist country, at least in modern times. Various countries have called themselves communist, but in none of them did the people make the decisions regarding the means of production, or the distribution of the fruits of same. The most communist things to exist during the Cold War were worker-owned coops … all located in countries like the United States that identified themselves as anything-but-communist. The self-styled “communist” countries, meanwhile, were all dictatorships (and the surviving ones, China, Cuba, and North Korea, still are) where there was even less popular control of the means of production than there is here, where many of the people can at least vote with their wallet between Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

So what the hell were/are they instead? Well, there’s a name for a dictatorship where the dictator and immediate cronies own pretty much every productive asset in the country. It’s feudalism. And when it’s industrial-age, it’s very close to fascism; add in the requisite mythic-nostalgic cultism, xenophobia, and nationalism, and you’ve got the whole package. Given how cultish Russia has been for a long time, with the veneration of Lenin’s tomb and all of that, I think it’s fair to say that the Soviet Union was, in fact, fascist, and that Russia is again now under Putin, with but a brief non-fascist interregnum between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of Putin. China also appears to be fascist, or very close to it, and has been from Chairman Mao on; and North Korea indubitably is, complete with an even more abject leader-cult than Mao or the Soviet premiers had in their heydays, or Putin or Trump now, and maybe even than Hitler enjoyed. The US even flirted with it before under FDR, of all people, and the Confederacy under Jefferson Davis sure was. In a way, still is — the veneration of all those Confederate monuments (actually erected by the Klan in the 20s as the psy-ops component of Jim Crow) and all that “Lost Cause” bullshit sure fits the mythic-nostalgia and cult aspects, and you can’t argue with the racism of perhaps the worst slave state the earth has ever known. The Romans, the Spartans, and other slave-keeping cultures of the past were positively enlightened in their treatment of slaves compared to the American South. More recently, we have also had Daesh and Boko Haram (of all the violent jihadist groups, these two clearly were/are specifically fascist), and Israel’s Likud party appears to qualify now, too (a supreme irony). All ethno-nationalist movements that have exhibited genocidal behavior toward other cultures, up to and including wholesale destruction of their artifacts in the case of Daesh.

You can find outbursts of fascism-like phenomena going way way back. The heavily militaristic Spartan culture is an obvious suspect, and Spain at the time of the Inquisition? That one’s a no-brainer: extreme cultishness (Catholic, in this case); internal purges of religious and ethnic minorities (Muslims and Jews, as well as Christians with views considered heretical — Protestants didn’t exist yet, but if they had they’d have been persecuted too); and not long after, they launched the conquistadores, which spread genocide across much of the globe. The conquistadores acted very much like WW II Nazi soldiers, exterminating anyone who wasn’t sufficiently like them and looting every valuable artifact and any precious stones or metals they could find.

And every one of these suspected or proved fascist movements of the past and present also exhibits severe misogyny, with the arguable exception of the Soviet version.

Oh, and it’s nearly universal for fascists to proclaim themselves to be some stripe of socialist/communist, at least in the 20th century and beyond. Hitler himself called his party the “national socialist German worker’s party”, though one of the first things he did in power was to dismantle and outlaw labor unions. The last thing any of them would have permitted was actual worker ownership of the means of production.

One might identify three somewhat-similar governance systems that involve a cult of leadership: monarchy, in which the dictator owns pretty much all productive assets and commands a form of worship (“long live the King!”); monarcho-fascism, in which this is combined with a violent reactionary purge in the face of progressivist perceived threats (Spain during the Inquisition; the Soviet Union, with its inverse-McCarthyist obsession with finding and purging “counter-revolutionary” saboteurs; likely most or all of the modern Islamist variants, though of these only one, Saudi-Arabia-in-the-MBS-era, is a territorial state now that Daesh has lost its land holdings); and oligarcho-fascism, in which an oligarchy is combined with the same acute-reactionary fever (Nazi Germany; present-day Russia; present-day China; present-day Israel). I guess you could add another taxonomic dimension based on the presence of expansionism (Spain at the time of the conquistadores; Nazi Germany; Daesh) or not (Spain during the Inquisition, Spain under Franco, Saudi Arabia). The fever-reaction of fascism proper seems to be an unstable state that often doesn’t sustain for long; Franco’s and Pinochet’s regimes settled down into what might have eventually become stable monarchies, and the Soviet Union was on that trajectory too until destabilized by Chernobyl’s (literal and metaphorical) fallout. The Axis powers got bombed into submission and conquered from without. Fascism is the refuge of a monarchy or oligarchy under threat from progressive forces, with a layer of support from the middle class, especially the lower middle class. Some surviving remnants of the Czarist Russian middle class formed the nucleus of the future Politburo; oligarchs and swathes of the middle class in 1920s-30s Germany and present-day Russia have supported the fascist leaders there, fearing communism.

On the specific topic of Russia, it’s been either feudalist or fascist for basically its entire history, with the sole exception of a brief flirtation with capitalist liberal democracy in the 1990s.

Historically, the Inquisition is a particularly interesting case. It had a nationalistic element (wresting control of “deciding what’s orthodoxy and what’s heresy” from the Pope) as well as the obvious reactionary one (the Renaissance was empowering merchants, artisans, other middle-class types, and even, increasingly, the rank and file; trade and manufacture was growing to rival agriculture as the major contributor to the economy, shaking the power base of the landed aristocracies all over Europe; since this growing rival power center was centered around money, and due to the Christian discomfort with banking owing to the scourging of the money-lenders from the Temple, Jews had taken most of the banking jobs, this rival power base was significantly more Jewish and multicultural than the traditional aristocratic-agrarian one, and the reaction took the form of antiSemitism across Europe; Spain, having a large Muslim minority, also went in for Islamophobia in a big way).

Always, though, the underlying cause of large scale organized violence seems to be a power struggle ultimately tied to control of the means of production and threats to monopoly power in one form or another. Medieval wars were for arable land, when that was the main means of production. The Renaissance was the start of the rise of manufacture to become a definite threat to the monopoly of arable-landownership on power, and wave after wave of reactionary movements attended that rise, with the Inquisition and sister movements in Europe being the first of these. Colonialism was partly a reaction to this as well, as the landed aristocrats sought to counter the rising power of the banker-merchant class by vastly increasing their land holdings and amassing a lot of gold besides. Other maneuverings included seizing at least partial control of industry through nationalizations and the issuing of patents and copyrights and seizing land internally by enclosing former commonses. The last great wave of monarchist revolt against modernity accompanied World War I, followed by the final major wave of industrialist revolutions overthrowing monarchs, in Russia and Germany in particular. Japan resisted this by going fascist under its last Emperor. Every collapsing monarchy also sparked a tussle between socialism and the industrial magnate class for which would have ultimate power, the people or an oligarchy of the wealthy. This took the place of violent labor suppression in the US North (the Confederacy’s rise and the Civil War were a last gasp of landed aristocracy, as well as slaveholding, against industrialists) and fascism’s rise in Europe in the 20s and 30s. Including in Russia, where the conflict took the form of the Trotskyist faction (genuine socialists) vs. Lenin/Stalin (fascists masquerading, as Hitler did, as socialists).

The disturbing thing is that oligarchy won every single time. Sometimes as fascism whose fever subsequently faded, and sometimes directly succeeding monarchy. Even modern dictatorships have been oligarchies, rather than monarchies, with a few big business types usually having the collective clout to give the dictator his agenda (or walking papers, or cement overshoes). Where the dictator had absolute control (later Nazi Germany, notably), disaster ensued, typically in the form of unwinnable wars stemming from the grandiose ambitions of Dear Leader.

I fear the same may be happening to Russia now: the Russian version of the Junkers lords have lost their grip on Putin, as their German counterparts 83 years ago had lost theirs on Hitler, and now the Panzers are rolling … and if we survive this, there will be more such upheavals to come. China’s economy has a giant real-estate bubble that dwarfs the US one in 2007, which will destabilize things, and Xi Jinping already seems to have a fascist streak noticeably worse than his recent predecessors. The bubble’s collapse will both weaken and make desperate the Chinese Junkers-lord types, and their grip on Jinping may likewise slip. The Belt and Road Initiative might stop being quite so voluntary in how it expands: always, as in the last days of Rome, foreign conquest and pillage is a nearly irresistible lure to a dictator facing economic disaster on the home front. (This is also why sanctions against Russia will likely backfire, badly.) Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, is on a collision course with crashing oil prices and crashing domestic production Real Soon Now, and its current ruler, MBS, is distinctly nastier than his predecessor, as Jamaal Kashoggi found out the hard way. AFAIK there are no oligarchs in Saudi Arabia; it’s the last true monarchy, with MBS’s family directly owning all the important productive assets, and those productive assets being land. What happens when the oil, and with it the land containing that oil, becomes worthless? Revolution, but who’s revolution? There will be a clash of factions when the insolvent royal family turns into a howling power vacuum: secular vs. Islamist, socialist vs. capitalist, feminist vs. patriarchal, and likely with several additional axes, all at once. Two dominant factions will probably emerge, probably a patriarchal Islamist royalist-nostalgic one and a secular liberal-democratic capitalist one, with the socialists making the mistake of throwing in their lot with the Islamists, who will lure them with promises of religious-scripture-based generosity to the poor. The result will be a mass of contradictions similar to the early Soviet Communist Party, with its Leninist and Trotskyist factions, or the 1933 Nazi party, with some actual leftists just about to be purged on the Night of the Long Knives, and the rest oligarchists.

If history is any guide, oligarchy will win these fights as well. Either they’ll retake control of Russia or Russia will ruin itself (and maybe all of us) in war and get carved up like a Christmas turkey. China will either stumble but remain under oligarchic control, as the earlier “Asian tigers” and Japan had all done (each had a major economic crisis on its way up), or self-destruct in likewise spectacular fashion. And Saudi Arabia is probably heading toward a stint as a Syria-like failed state wracked by civil war, since when its oil has lost enough value it won’t have much of anything else to keep it a relatively rich nation. If it recovers, it won’t be recognizable: likely a secular, quasi-democratic state with some minor feminist reforms, somewhere between Iran and Dubai on the secularness and misogyny scales and thus much more secular and less misogynistic than present-say Saudi Arabia; likely it will be run by an oligarchy of techbro types finding a new use for all of its sun-drenched sands: solar power, desalinating water, exporting the results throughout the middle east, and semiconductor manufacture. It won’t likely become a major trading hub, simply because Dubai already did and won’t likely let any serious rival grow in its shadow.

That all assumes we survive Russia’s death throes … and maybe also China’s. At least if we make it that far it’s downhill from there, as Saudi Arabia doesn’t have any nukes. That we know of.

Queen of the Harpies
Queen of the Harpies
2 months ago

Fucker Carlson can go take a flying leap. Especially for that “manufactured pandemic” bullshit.

@Alan

That’s both brilliant and hilarious. These guys can’t even keep it in their pants during a war? And modern technology is really going to (/is already) compromise people both on the battlefield and elsewhere unless we do something about how damned intrusive it is.

@Surplus

You really are quite knowledgeable about history. I feel like the cliched American who doesn’t know much about what’s going on outside their own little bubble. Of course, I sort of live in a bubble within a bubble, but that’s another story. History is both fascinating and sometimes disappointing. (Like when you learn things like anti-masker idiots are nothing new. Or that bad things keep happening with nobody learning from their mistakes.)

Last edited 2 months ago by Queen of the Harpies
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